Apple

Apple iPhone 12 To Get A14 SoC Made On 5nm Fabrication Process But Costs Will Rise, Claims Report

The current-generation Apple iPhone 11 has a powerful A13 Bionic System on a Chip. Although quite powerful, Apple is already looking at the next generation of processors for its upcoming iPhone lineup. A new report claims Apple has already received pre-production, engineering samples of next-generation CPU for the hereto unannounced iPhones. The prototype chips could be named A14. What’s important to note is that these new chips will be manufactured on a revolutionary new 5nm fabrication process.

A new report claims Apple Inc. is currently in possession of next-generation A14 SoC, which has been fabricated on the 5nm EUV. The chips are reportedly manufactured by Apple’s current partner, Taiwanese company TSMC. Although the report remains uncorroborated at present, Apple could be deep in the development of the next generation of Apple iPhones. Moreover, given the fact that Huawei is the only company today that is using the world’s first EUV-fabricated smartphone processor, Apple would certainly try and get on the new fabrication process to make better, faster, and more energy-efficient processors for iPhones.

Apple In Possession of A14 SoC Samples From TSMC Made On 5nm EUV Process:

Apple has a habit of tightly controlling every aspect of iPhone production. This includes most components, and more specifically, the processor. Apple followed this process and developed its own processor microarchitecture for chips as complex as the A13 and as simple as the H1. This methodology allows Apple to fine-tune every aspect of production and better optimize software-hardware relation which ultimately results in smoother operation of the iPhones in real-world settings.

Apple vastly varies its approach to hardware as compared to the Android OS ecosystem. The company has traditionally chosen its hardware manufacturers and microarchitectural parameters of its smartphone processors from the ground up. The current generation Apple A13 SoC is undeniably one of the fastest processors for smartphones in existence today. However, the speed and power mandated the need for a heftier battery, which indicates why the latest Apple iPhones are a little thicker than usual.

The current-generation Apple A13 SoC is manufactured by TSMC on their 2nd generation 7nm fabrication process. It is a 64-bit ARMv8.3-A six-core CPU, with two high-performance cores running at 2.65GHz called Lightning and four energy-efficient cores called Thunder. It integrates an Apple-designed four-core Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). The SoC manages to incorporate 8.5 billion transistors. Needless to add, the next-generation Apple A14 SoC, reportedly built on the TSMC’s 5nm fabrication process, would have even more transistors packed on a smaller die.

Will Apple Truly Move On The 5nm Fabrication Process For The Next-Gen A14 SoC?

It is important to note that Apple has invested heavily in perfecting the 7nm production process in collaboration with TSMC. Hence there is a high probability that Apple might just stick with the same production process, and improve upon other areas of the SoC. TSMC is undoubtedly moving onto or experimenting with the 5nm fabrication process. While speaking to participants, TSMC’s vice president and CEO Wu Wei had recently stated, “With N5, we are further expanding our customer product portfolio and increasing our addressable market. The initial ramp will be driven by both mobile and HPC applications. We are confident that 5-nanometer will have a strong ramp and be a large and long-lasting node for TSMC.”

Interestingly, TSMC has been steadily reducing the die size, but the latest 5nm process will be TSMC’s first true node jump from 7nm. If Apple does choose to move on to this production process, it will partly be to keep its competitive edge against the likes of Huawei. The HiSilicon Kirin 1000 SoC, about to debut in 2020 in Mate 40 series, could be commercially produced on the 5nm fabrication process. If Apple isn’t able to keep up, it might affect consumer perception, and Apple will certainly not want that.


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